Summit County Grant Program to provide additional $5 million to Small Businesses Affected by Coronavirus Crisis

From Cleveland.com

By Robin Goist, cleveland.com

AKRON, Ohio — Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro and the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday a second round of grant funding totaling $5 million to be distributed to 1,274 small businesses that took a financial hit due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The county’s COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Relief Grant Program initially provided $1,546,000 in grants of up to $5,000 to 311 for-profit businesses in Summit County that have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and related closures.

To be eligible, a business must employ between three and 25 people, with at least half of employees residing in Summit County, and demonstrate financial need and a desire to continue operation by applying for a U.S. Small Business Administration economic injury disaster loan.

As of the initial application deadline on April 13, the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce had received more than 1,000 applications, about 600 of which were from eligible businesses. The second round awarded grants to about 440 eligible applicants that did not receive funding in the first round, and 1,274 new applicants. Single-employee sole proprietors were also eligible for grants of up to $2,000.

Due to the additional financial need, Shapiro and Summit County Council agreed to allocate an additional $5 million from the money the county received under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act.

“In just a matter of weeks, the County and the Chamber worked together to provide desperately needed support to almost 1,600 small businesses in Summit County,” Shapiro said. “Prioritizing these businesses was critical not only for our short-term economic growth, but also for our long-term ability to retain jobs and grow our local economy. I am incredibly proud of the attention paid to businesses representing disadvantaged populations.”

For a list of businesses receiving grants, visit https://gaccovid19.org/grantprogram.

About 60% of the grants will go to companies with two to 30 employees, and more than $1 million will go to more than 500 self-employed individuals, the county said.

About 46% of grants were awarded to companies in the city of Akron, with 51% in a low- to moderate-income area or in a designated “county job hub.” Fifty-two percent went to disadvantaged businesses, and 38% went to women-owned businesses. Fifteen percent of recipients are black-owned businesses.

“Once again, there was overwhelming demand for the support that this grant program was able to deliver,” said Steve Millard, president and CEO of the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce. “Surveys of the business community indicate that about 20% of our businesses in the region are unsure if they are going to make it to the other side of this crisis. This program represents an additional resource for Summit County businesses”

Grant recipients represent more than 75 industry sectors, with the most popular including 137 businesses in the accommodation and food service industry, 131 in personal services and 127 in professional and technical services.

For more information about the grant program, contact covidgrant@greaterakronchamber.org.